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HomeNL-2012-07 Pickett's Bayou

Pickett's Bayou
June 24th, 2012
by Dave Kitson

Readers of the newsletter may have seen a trip report from a couple of months ago describing a failed attempt at paddling from Picketts Bayou thru the Cut Off to Old River.  We were stopped by a log jam that had no safe way around.  The trip, however, promises to be a good one through a beautiful stream with a short shuttle and easy put in and take out so we decided to try again on Sunday, June 24.  This time Joe Coker and I were joined by John Rich and Charles Zipprian -  more muscle and lots of enthusiasm.  


Lower end of Pickett's  

Both the put-ins at Champion Lake and Picketts Bayou have recently been paved and it looks like the road to the park will be paved soon which will be a great improvement.  We put in at the Picketts side and set out on a warm morning with little breeze.  The trip down Picketts was uneventful, the water was a little on the high side with the sand bar toward the south end covered by a foot or so of water.  The far south end was as beautiful as ever.  A trip to the south end of Picketts would be a great trip for someone not wanting to go too far but who would like to see one of the most beautiful stretches of water around.   


  Cut-off to Old River   The "submarine"   Prothonotary warbler

We left Picketts and turned right toward Old River on the Cut Off.  The gage located at this point read 2.5 feet.  There was virtually no current from the Trinity on this day so there would be no problem turning back if we had to. I had checked the USGS site which said the Trinity was flowing at about 50% of normal.  The eastern end of the Cut Off is very beautiful, not too wide or too thin with lots of forest and very little evidence of civilization.  We did not see too many birds, maybe it was too hot for them.  They must have been back in the shade thinking that only mad dogs and paddlers go out in the midday sun.  In addition to a few of the usual egrets and herons there was one hawk of undetermined pedigree and John saw a Prothonotary Warbler.  It is the time of year when the red wasps are nesting and we saw many of the evil creatures.  The water was so still that the alligator gars were resting on the surface and could be easily seen, and run over with the boat.  Does anyone know why they never seem to see us coming?  I also saw a number of small white crabs in the water and jumping out of the water on occasion.   Here and there you can see barnacles on some of the dead logs so the water must be brackish at times.  We found a large rusting pontoon of some sort on the bank which looked for all the world like a miniature submarine (Did the Japanese or Germans invade Texas from little submarines during WWII?)


The Logjam  
We finally reached the log jam and found that with the water at that height and no current it is easy to get past, however, in respect of future trips we decided to do a little Aqua Logging.  John sawed a small tree on the right and Charles and Joe used ropes to pull some of the larger logs out of the way on the left.  The result of an hour’s work is that the log jam should be passable in future even with some current flowing. Another stream intersects the Cut Off just downstream of the log jam.   This stream leads to the upper end of John Wiggins Bayou and would be a good out and back day trip if there is no current flowing.  There are a large number of fallen trees all along the Cut Off but except for this one logjam they are all easily passable.

Charles lassos stumps   Clear on the left!   John & Dave
clear the right 
  No more blockage! 

  Lunch spot
We found a very nice spot to get out of the boats and have lunch a little ways down from the log jam and took some much needed rest then set out for the take out at Old River and FM1409.  The trip ended up at 11.3 miles and 6 hours counting an hour of Aqua Logging.  With a 2 or 3 mph current the trip would be “Shortened” to 8 or 9 miles and 4 hours I would guess.  The day was very hot with little breeze so we were all tired by the time we got the take out but had the satisfaction of doing a trip we had not done before and of exploring a beautiful bayou that others can take in the future.

Location from Houston   Route map


 Dave Kitson